Friday, February 28, 2014

Give. And then do it again.

Deuteronomy 16:17
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

3 years ago our house was foreclosed.  We lost everything.  We were digging up dimes and quarters off the floor of our rusted out van to buy a gallon of milk.  My debit card was declined more than it was accepted.  So many tears were shed out of fear and frustration by both Ryan and I.  Doubt in the Lord surfaced as we scraped by with three kids.  Anger at our situation filled the bulk of our conversations.  

In May of 2013 I was approached by a friend about getting into "an oil business." I thought oil was used for greasing car parts. "Um Nicole? I don't DO oils."  

I remember stepping outside on our back porch area, so I could hear her better.  She was explaining these crazy oils that you use for your health.  Like headaches, tummy aches, cuts and burns, and even depression and anxiety.  And you KNOW that peaked my interest.  I was on board.  I needed these oils.  The snag?  It was 150.00 we didn't have.  It was $150.00 that needed to be used on groceries, or gas, or bills.  As Nicole was talking me through them, she acknowledged my fear of the investment.   I told her I'd think about it more and get back with her.

And then I felt a tug.  The slightest of tugs;  more like a whisper of a pull.  I couldn't get the oils out of my head.

At this point in our lives we were at the short about 500 by the end of the month (which was charged to a credit card).  When broaching the subject of spending $150.00 on a kit of oils to my husband who was constantly stressed about providing and finances, well, I was more than nervous.

I think the first answer he gave me was a flat no.  After some more asking begging he started to entertain the idea.  We scoured the Young Living Website and The Lemon Drop Lounge (this would be the team I'd be on, if indeed I did enroll).  After some praying, talking, more praying, more reading, making absolutely sure there were no strings attached or loop holes to "becoming a member" and some more praying... Ryan asked, "Do you think you can make the 150 back?"

"Yeah, I will.  I promise I will."

The credit card was handed over and as I signed up everything in me felt like this was something.... something more than just a kit of oils... I felt it in my bones.  And while it stung charging more money we didn't have, I felt a peace about it.  The gentle whisper that had been in my ear for weeks was getting louder.  And I was listening.

Long story short, I made my 150 back within the first week of being a Lemon Dropper.

From May of 2013 to right now, what's happened in our lives, what God has given us, the doors He's opened.... I'm left on my knees and breathless.  Stunned.  Shaken to my core by His mercies.  

I participate in a photo challenge on Instagram called "FMS photo a day."  It's basically a themed "challenge" where each day is given a new subject... like "white" or "vegetable."  
The other day the theme was "an act of kindness."  It definitely made me stop and think for a bit.  First, how do you capture an act of kindness in a picture on a phone?  Kinda hard.  Secondly, I wanted the act of kindness to be pure and true, a blessing to someone.  Not like "I cut my kids chicken nuggets up- that's an act of kindness..."
So I came up with the most unoriginal idea ever.  I'd buy a homeless man a meal.
Let me fully disclose my heart to you;  when I see homeless people begging, I think a few things.  The first thought is just utter sadness.  Sadness their life has come to that.  The second, closely followed thought is, "What if they're just lazy?"  The third is, "Don't make eye contact while passing them because obviously, if we look each other in the eyes I'll feel sad and guilty."  

I'm not sure why its taken me 30 years to get this, but I know why I don't make eye contact with them.  And its not because I'll feel sad.  It's because I would feel an urge to help.  To do something.  And for so long, so, so, long I couldn't help.  Didn't really have a desire to help.  (and yes this is baring an ugly, ugly part of me).  
This past year, I've been taught a lesson in grace.  A huge, like MASTER class in grace and humility. 
I am no better than the beggar off the street.   I'm not any more worthy of a meal than he is.  

So here's what went down yesterday:
 #anactofkindness #fmsphotoaday #day22 We frequent Chickfila more than I care to admit. There's a man that stands by a lamppost holding nothing. Not a backpack, a sign, nothing. Just a ripped tee shirt that says "hungry" written in scrawled permanent marker. Today I did the most simplest, easiest thing ever. Bought him a 5.00 meal. That's it. I rolled my window down to give it to him and he said "I'm so sorry to beg. I'm embarrassed." And then he dug into the bag. Henry asked as we were driving away, why we gave that man our food... I answered simply, "because he was hungry." Of course then my emotions got me. How simple an act! But what incredible lessons to be learned. I feel humbled, blessed, thankful. My prayer today is how and who can I bless through what The Lord has given us. Try something small- offer an umbrella to someone standing in the rain. A coffee for the bus driver. Give. Show His love.

I posted this for my FMSphoto challenge.  But got an overwhelmingly HUGE response.  And its not because of the meal or giving this man food.  It's because this world needs kindness in the worst way.  It needs God's love.  It needs His mercies.  It's screaming for help and I can't ignore, won't ignore it anymore.  And I think we, as a society want it just as badly.  We long and yearn for peace and goodness.  We're tired of the news telling us about shootings and suicides and torn apart families.  And while the only way we will ever reach true peace, and a complete body, whole and full with love and pureness, is through Jesus Christ, I feel compelled to act as His hands and feet NOW.  And I hope you'll join me in showing this sickened, weak world that we are Christians by our love.  That no matter how much hurt and suffering this world holds, HIS love is bigger, stronger and conquers all.  

The comments, messages and responses I got yesterday warmed my heart and got some wheels turning.   Y'all ready for this?

 I am challenging you, for the month of March.  March 1st- 31st,  show God's love through an act of kindness.  Obviously our motivation should be to help others without expecting anything in return.  But I'm putting something on the line... 


That's a kit guys.  A $150.00 starter kit.  11 oils, a diffuser and the potential for God to do some major things in your life.  And its for one of you.  Free.  No strings attached.  Am I making so much money that 150 bucks is chump change?  Um, no.  But the point is, I have, I can, I will, and therefore I'll do.

Here's how this thing is going to roll out:
 (and please read carefully!) 
THIS IS AN INSTAGRAM ONLY EVENT... if you don't have it, now's the time to get it!
  (best app ever)

1.  FIND ME ON INSTAGRAM HERE  username: ashleymckenney & follow this blog (so you can see who the winner is, and be updated throughout the month of March... yipppee!)

2.  Do one act of kindness.  Or do 20.  And capture it with a photo.

3.  Hashtag said photo,  #HappyIsGoodYL and share on Instagram. Along  with the hashtag,  Tag a friend and put them up to the challenge - (aka @emilyladwig) to keep the chain of kindness going.

4.  At the end of March, I'm hoping to have an army of "random acts of kindness do-ers" (that doesn't really make sense but just go with it).  My goal is to get 100 people to each do an act of kindness.  Like when I click on #HappyIsGoodYL, I want to see it flooded with goodness and love.  I want happy tears.  I want you to feel the joy of giving without receiving. 
5. Only one photo will count (one entry per person) but that's not the point of this, really?  Let's storm this place with kindness!
6.  A winner will be chosen randomly on April 1st

7.  With God's help, a lot of much needed kindness will be sprinkled, spread, shown and sown... and  THAT'S the real prize here friends.

A few last notes:  Why hashtag "happy is good?"
 Here's THAT story:   
 Friday started off just BAD. Kids up early, out of coffee, Lola had gotten into the trash, the house was a pit, etc. Ryan called to remind me the washing machine guy was coming to fix the washer which upped my grouch factor by 100. The kids totally had picked up on it and I knew. Still I chose to wallow in a bad mood, because I could I guess? I called my mom around noon to pick up Maeve and Henry because they had to get out of the house- and I mean, they HAD TO for my sanity. She came and picked them up, I pretty much bustled them out the door, without a kiss goodbye or an "I love you"- nothing- and then sank into the couch.

After putting Stella down for her nap, Rosie and I fell asleep. I woke up to my cell phone pinging; a text. "Happy. Is. Good. I. Love. You. Mom. Don't. be. sad." Maeve had sent me a text from my moms phone and it kind of broke me. That phrase (or whatever you want to call it) has stuck with me for the past few days now. Whenever I look at my kiddos, and see their carefree wonder and joy I'm envious. I wish I could look at the world through their eyes. Happiness is a given, just hanging out like an apple ready for picking. And my kids pick it every day.

I cannot wait to see what some of you come up with!  Creative minds + God's love= amazing things.  But for those who lack creativity ( myself) here's a big ol' list of ideas:

So simple, So kind.
1.  Pay for someone's drive thru order
2.  Get a coffee for your kids teacher
3.  Shovel a driveway
4. Cut someones lawn
5.  Help someone on the side of the road (use caution with this one... lol)
6. Do your friends dishes
7.  Send a stranger some flowers with a note that says, "You're great.  Keep on, keepin' on."
8.  Teach someone a skill you have.
9.  Sign up to be an organ donor
10.  Volunteer- anywhere- there are so many places and people that need help
11.  donate dog food to an animal shelter
12.  Sponsor a child through Compassion Network
13. Pay someones parking meter
14.  Leave some change in a vending machine
15. Donate blood
16.  Visit a nursing home
17.  Wave hello and good morning to a stranger
18.  Thank a police officer or firefighter.  Better yet, bake them cookies.  I hear they love food.
19.  Stick up for someone.
20. (my fave idea)  hide a few dollar bills inside a dollar store.  Imagine the shock, surprise and pure joy someone will feel finding that.
21.  Write a thoughtful note to someone.
22.  Take your parents out for dinner
23. Shell out some self confidence to someone.  Compliment a stranger on his/her shoes or hair.
24.  pick a charity of any sort and donate something- a dollar, five dollars...anything
25.  offer to walk your neighbors dog

and the list goes on...and on....and on.

Thank you guys...x a billion for listening to my heart.  Lets go out and sieze the day with kindness...


Questions?  I'd love to talk and help ya out... Please email me, with "Happy Is Good" in the title, or check out my Young Living Page.


Jess said...

I love this idea, so so much! We definitely need more of this in our world!

angie bangie said...

Completely love this Ash. Can't wait to start:)

Misty Harp said...

Absolutely tear-flowing, heart-tugged, throat-lumped read Ashley McKenney. You...your heart...and all your flaws...I love this friendship. God has blessed me with some amazing people in my life. And you are encouraging me to move OUT of my comfort zone, allow myself to run the risk of looking ridiculous (I don't know why I worry about this because I AM ridiculous) and help someone. The FUNNY thing is...I was able to pray with a girl last week that I meet two weeks ago at Quest Diagnostics. God used Chick-fil-A as the thread that tied it all together...

Misty Harp said...

I didn't mean to say ALL your flaws...I meant to say EVEN because you're honesty about your flaws is intentionally pointing to the constant need we all have for Jesus.